Sportress of Blogitude

LeBron James’ play since return reportedly has Lakers ‘a little concerned’

LeBron James has been putting up great numbers since returning to the court after a groin injury sidelined him for 17 games, but the Los Angeles Lakers are nevertheless said to be “a little concerned” about his overall level of play.

James has played in six of seven games since his return on Jan. 31 and is playing very well from a statistical perspective, averaging a triple-double with 23.6 points, 12.4 rebounds and 10.0 assists.

The Lakers nevertheless believe something does not look quite right with James, as noted by The Athletic’s Joe Vardon.

“He’s just not moving at the same speed nor is he engaging at the point of attack,” Vardon writes. “That fourth-quarter moment in a loss to the Hawks on Wednesday in which Trae Young switched onto LeBron, and instead of taking the much smaller Young off the dribble LeBron casually threw the ball to Brandon Ingram in the corner? There are several examples like this.”

It merits noting that the Lakers are 3-3 since James returned to the lineup, and that .500 record presumably is a source of concern as well.

James, 34, is in his 16th NBA season, but he has rarely exhibited any signs of slowing down or demonstrated that his age — not to mention significant mileage on his body — is starting to catch up with him.

That said, James at some point will become the latest athlete to lose his or her match-up with the undefeated Father Time, although the Lakers’ purported concerns arguably do not rise to the level of panic.

Instead, the Lakers presumably won’t overreact and simply want to make sure James is as fresh as possible for the season’s stretch run. Perhaps the Lakers could potentially discuss the situation with James and formulate a plan that addresses their concerns, possibly by altering the superstar’s rest and maintenance routine.